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Aly Raisman on the Magic of the Gymnastics Team Competition

2 minute read
Kirsten Salyer is a writer and the former Deputy Editor of TIME Ideas

Tuesday’s Olympics coverage features the much-anticipated women’s team gymnastics competition (occurring live in Rio as this is published). This is the moment for Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian to compete together for team U.S.A. before breaking off for individual events later in the competition.

The Rio Games are the last Olympics the women’s gymnastics teams will feature five competitors. Starting in the 2020 Toyko Games, there will only be four team members, the International Gymnastics Federation announced last year.

Raisman wrote about the importance of the team competition for TIME last year.

The Olympics are inspiring—especially for young athletes. I loved watching the ’96 Olympic team because it was in America, and I loved their leotards—they were red, white, and blue. On top of that, they won the gold medal. I was only 2 years old when it happened, so my mom had a VHS tape that she would replay it for me over and over when I was older. I loved the American girls, and I also loved the Ukrainian gymnast Lilia Podkopayeva. She won the all around, and she won floor. When I watched the tape, I always dreamed of winning floor at the Olympics like her.

Here in America, the biggest sports are football, hockey, baseball, and basketball because they’re big team events. In the Olympics, there’s something about the whole country coming together and supporting a team. There’s nothing like watching a team event, and watching the Americans win. We always say that the most important thing is the team first. The priority is the team gold medal, and then we focus on the individual ones. That’s what people remember—the team competition.

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